As far as disappointments for this season go, Cam Atkinson is near the top of the list. After his breakout last season with 35+27, Atkinson has struggled mightily on the ice and with an injury. We're finally seeing signs of Atkinson getting back to last season's level. Atkinson scored a shorthanded goal and added two power play assists with five shots on goal in the Columbus win on Monday. That gives Atkinson 4+4 in his last 9 games with at least three shots on goal in each game during that span. The minutes are strong so that hasn't been a problem. The issue has been that Columbus' power play has been so bad that Atkinson had only 3 STP before this game (which he doubled in this one). Columbus has been better on the man advantage lately, and the arrival of Thomas Vanek should help them even more. Atkinson is still available in over 40% of leagues and in a 12'er, I'd grab him right now while he's finding his groove again. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
What looked like an amazing weekend for Mark Stone turned for the worst at the last minute. Stone had one of the biggest games of the year on Saturday scoring a goal and four assists with five shots in the 6-3 win over the Maple Leafs. Stone followed that up by scoring a goal and taking a penalty against the Jets on Sunday before a hit to the head from Jacob Trouba knocked him out of the game. As if a hit to the head wasn't concerning enough, Stone has already had a concussion in the preseason, an injury that caused him to become a value in drafts. Stone has been terrific this season with 22 goals and 25 assists through 56 games but now, his fantasy owners are in a tough spot as are the Senators who were decimated by injuries over the weekend. Look for some news to come out later today on Stone's status but here's to hoping it's nothing serious like another concussion. Let's take a look at what else happened around the league this weekend:
It's been very up and down this year for Sean Monahan but as we approach the end of the year, his numbers are exactly in line with last season. After scoring a goal and adding two assists on Monday night against the Coyotes, Monahan is sitting at 27+32 with 184 shots on goal after 31+31 and 191 last season. With six games left, it looks like he will slightly best last season's big breakout. The 21 year old isn't going to end up a top 20 player, that's not his offensive ceiling and he doesn't contribute in penalty minutes (16 this year is a career high) but he should be around 50th overall in drafts next year since there's a good chance he can get to 70 points with some progression. Here's what else I saw around the league on Monday night:
Even by his lofty standards, Alex Ovechkin had quite the weekend. He went into the weekend with 497 career goals and managed to score two goals in both games he played to get 501. On Saturday, he scored the opening goal and then a coast to coast overtime winner to beat the Rangers 4-3 on his fifth shot of the game. On Sunday, he scored number 500 from his patented spot by the left hashmark and added 501 late to put the Capitals up 7-1. Here are the players who got to 500 goals faster than Ovechkin: Gretzky, Lemieux, Bossy, Hull. That's it. And those guys did it in an era where the game was wide open, not the dead era Ovechkin plays in now. I've said it before and people didn't agree in the comments but I still believe it; Ovechkin is the greatest goal scorer in NHL history. Here's to hoping he sticks around because he has a decent shot to break Gretzky's record which would be incredible given the low goal scoring in this era plus he missed time for two lockouts. Here's what else happened around the league this weekend:
I'm back! I hope all of the Americans reading enjoyed their Thanksgiving and that everyone had a good weekend. I have a whole week's worth of games to recap so instead of listing every player individually, I am going to go game by game and highlight the key points in each game. This way, I won't mess up adding up players stats across a bunch of games or miss a player having a big impact in one game. In the latter case, Ryan Getzlaf had arguably the game of the week on Tuesday, dishing five assists in the 5-3 win over Calgary. After his appendectomy, he has 14 points in 12 games (13 assists) so he's getting back to his elite status. The goals should come with 46 shots and only 1 goal on the season. Here's a look at every game at every game from last week:
When it comes to winning in fantasy sports due diligence on the waiver wire is probably the most important factor I can think of. Yeah, you can draft a perfect team but how often does that happen? Injuries, untimely trades, down years, you name it, there is going to be a host of problems with the team you drafted and there are only two options to fix the damage; trades or the wire. Trades are great, but you often overpay to get what you need, but the wire? The wire provides for free! Ah, my favorite price point. With the fantasy playoffs looming just around the corner and the trade deadline long over it's never been more important to keep your eye on the wire because it’s the guys you pick up on the cheap or free that often make the difference between advancing to the next round and crying in your cornflakes on Monday morning. To that end, I submit for your consideration the most current waiver wire gem and his name is Mark Stone, RW (1 G, 3 SOG).
In just his second full season with the Rangers 23-year-old power forward Chris Kreider, LW (1 G, 7 SOG, +1) burst out of the gates strong and quickly faded, often looking lost on the ice. His decent culminated with a demotion to the Rangers’ fourth line, a destination that Kreider is none too familiar or comfortable with, and following that he was a healthy scratch. The Rangers claimed it was a neck issue, but it was clear to everyone he was just getting scratched. It was clear that the sophomore was listless on the ice at times, bereft of the passion and drive that had propelled him to early playoff success two years ago and a hot start this season. Kreider hadn’t lost it though; he was suffering through the death of his Grandfather, and admitted that his heart just wasn’t in it during that difficult period. Well, that period is over, and he’s currently riding a three game point streak posting four points (2 G, 2 A) over that span. He enters the all-star break riding high, showing every sign of finishing this season with a bang and breaking out in a big way next year.
When you think of the Sabres lately one name generally comes to mind and he isn’t even in the league yet, yes I’m talking about McJesus himself, Connor McDavid. The Sabres are well on their way to winning the McDavid sweepstakes by bungling their way through the 2014-15 season looking like hot garbage from top to bottom, save one bright spot; Zemgus Girgensons. Girgs was the Sabres’ second first round pick in 2012 and he’s paying off pretty quickly for a team that desperately needs someone to do something positive. I mean the fact that the Sabres had two first round picks should say something in-and-of it self, but I digress, the 20 year old Latvian pivot works his butt off out there from whistle to whistle. He’s hard to knock off the puck, isn’t afraid to fight for position in traffic and while he isn’t a traditional dangler, he definitely has solid hands and fore-checks like whoa. He’s now the Sabres top line center and spends time on their top power play unit as well. Given that it’s the Sabres you can’t expect him to score a ton, but he’s posted a respectable season line so far with 8 G, 6 A, +3 (on the Sabres!), 48 SOG and 9 PIM to date. Wait, that doesn’t look as sexy as I made it sound, does it? Well! That’s because his real value comes from his ability to win faceoffs (161), deliver hits (57) and even block shots (24). There’s basically not much this guy doesn’t do and in roto leagues that’s pure gold. In deep category H2H leagues he has value too. ROS I expect him to end up with around 50-55 points, he has tremendous upside over the long term and it’s clear that the Sabres envision him as a team leader moving forward. Those in keeper leagues would do well to grab him and hold on tight. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey last night:
Before the season started I was not a big fan of Roberto Luongo (W, 32 SV, 1 GA, .970%). I mean, I like Lu and think he's a stellar tender, but I figured his chances of a solid year with the Cats were somewhat slim. I mean honestly, it’s the Cats. Yes, they are chock full of young talent, but they’d been garbage for so long and their defense so porous that I expected Lu to return to his old stomping ground and face about the same volume of shots he did in days gone by. An aging goalie returning to face a montain of shots on a young team doesn't exactly sound like a recipe for success, now does it? Well, apparently I was wrong. Since their opening night implosion against the Devils the Cats have really pulled themselves together and have been playing some seriously solid 5-on-5 defense. Their forwards are back-checking like whoa and in general they’re able to disrupt some of the better offenses in the game. Dare I say I’m even impressed? Oh, I dare. I’m impressed. Flordia currently sits at 14th in the league in shots against per game allowing 30 a night and Lu is more than enough goalie to handle that kind of workload and put up solid numbers doing it. With that said this endorsement comes with a word of caution. Florida is indeed very young and while they are currently seventh overall in goals against per game allowing just two a tilt they’re second to last in goals per game with 1.5 per, 23rd on the power play and 28th on the Penalty Kill. Those numbers do not bode well for Lu getting many wins. If the defense holds up his peripherals should range from solid to sparkling despite the lack of wins, so, I guess it really is like he’s back to his old tricks in South Florida, eh? So I was kind of right, anyway. Just the wrong kind of right. Right? Hmn. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey last night:
For some time now the most talked about injury a player suffered in hockey has been the dreaded concussion. Well, this season we’ve got a new injury de jour, and it’s the broken finger. Everyone is breaking their freakin’ digits this season; Victor Hedman, Sergei Bobrovsky and Ben Lovejoy are all down for various amounts of time with broken fingers and yesterday Torey Krug and James Wisniewski joined the club with broken a finger each. Krug is out for two to three weeks and Wisniewski is out for one to two weeks. Mark Letestu figured Wiz was going to be lonely on IR so he pulled his groin and joins the IR crew himself for at least a few weeks, but who owns Letestu anyway? Hey, speaking of concussions, both T.J. Oshie and David Backes are both down with concussions with of course no time table for their return. As per the standard procedure both are out for at least a week at which time they’ll be evaluated and if they show know post concussion syndrome symptoms they can be cleared to play, otherwise they’re down for another week until they are reevaluated by team doctors. So they’re basically week-to-week. Is the entire St. Louis roster week-to-week now or what? Regardless, these aren’t the only injuries, they’re just the most recent and you know what that means? To the waiver wire we go!